Unsolicited Bulk Email is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most Spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send – most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender.
The word “Spam” as applied to Email means Unsolicited Bulk Email (“UBE”). Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.
A message is Spam only if it is both Unsolicited and Bulk
Unsolicited Bulk Email targets individual users with direct mail messages. Email Spam lists are often created by scanning Usenet postings, stealing Internet mailing lists, or searching the Web for addresses. Email Spams typically cost users money out-of-pocket to receive. Many people – anyone with measured phone service – read or receive their mail while the meter is running, so to speak. Spam costs them additional money. On top of that, it costs money for ISPs and online services to transmit Spam, and these costs are transmitted directly to subscribers.
One particularly nasty variant of Bulk Email is sending Spam to mailing lists (public or private email discussion forums.) Because many mailing lists limit activity to their subscribers, Spammers will use automated tools to subscribe to as many mailing lists as possible, so that they can grab the lists of addresses, or use the mailing list as a direct target for their attacks.